Until 1993, the NHL's Central Division (now home to our St. Louis Blues) was called the Norris Division. That nugget of NHL trivia may or may not guide your listening of the LucaBrasi album of the same name. As it turns out, though, the band's hard-edged but melodically accomplished music requires very little hand-holding. Division weaves accessible moments of rock grandeur into LucaBrasi's knotty, dark-hued patterns. The circular guitar figure that kicks off "Turned Around" could almost be termed "jangly," and the conventional verse-chorus-verse dynamics make it one of the disc's catchiest tunes. Singer Matt McInerney can certainly unleash a good primal scream, but his voice is better suited to a more melodious singing style, one that shows its scars while never losing pitch.
Despite the abundance of pop hooks, LucaBrasi remains committed to note-perfect, intricately layered musicianship. The barest hint of a backbeat and traces of nicely delayed guitars lend a reggae-like feel to "How Long?" That strain is amplified on the Police-like "Infinite Ceiling," which uses Jerry Jost's processed guitar tones to great effect. The band is especially adept at adding new tones and colors to its songs, straying from the all-guitars, all-the-time ethos of most heavy rock outfits. Bill Reiter's keyboards shine on the album's bookends: the intro to first track "All in Grey" is heavy on squelchy synth noises and strident piano chords, and closer "Everybody Would Say" features some airy electric piano reminiscent of the Album Leaf. Not that LucaBrasi has gone soft, as the chugging riffs and funereal organ of "Allegory" make clear. Instead, this sophomore disc finds the band refining its brand of hard rock with nuanced, pop-savvy touches.– Christian Schaeffer
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